Poem of the Week: Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——


A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot


A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.


Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——


The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.


Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me


And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.


This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.


What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see


Them unwrap me hand and foot——
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies


These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,


Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.


The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut


As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.


Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.


I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.


It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical


Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:


‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge


For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.


And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood


Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.


I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby


That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.


Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——


A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.


Herr God, Herr Lucifer


Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

Categories: Poems

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